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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Time management for the scatty

By Aurora @ Island Dreaming

Productivity ebbs and flows and some days I am superwoman and others, not so much. It doesn't help that I tend to follow my feelings about things, as opposed to my rational thoughts. If I don't feel in the mood to do something, forcing myself do it drains me. If it involves other people, I have no problem sucking it up and getting on with it, but when it comes to the humdrum necessities of my own life and stuff it isn't so easy. Domesticity can be a little too routine, however much I try to be mindful and focused on the task at hand.

I really do envy those who can pick a task and stick with it to completion, who can happily create and follow a rigorous schedule,  but my mind works a little more globally than that. In the past I have tried to fight it, to conform to strict routines and processes and it lead to burnout and joylessness. Instead, this method works well. Everything gets done within an acceptable time frame and my mind gets to hop about a bit and follow its whimsy, something it does not get to exercise in my very routine day job.

This is my _____ a _____ a ______ way of being and doing. I just fill in the first ______ with a verb, the second ______ with a subject and the third ______ with a regular, manageable time frame. Some examples from my current blank a blank a blank list currently read like this:

  • Crochet a row a day (cheery warm chevron blanket will be ready to go in just 120 more days)
  • Sow a crop a week (no empty spaces in any bed, container or paving crack this year!)
  • Wash a load of laundry a day (no more midweek laundry heap blues/running out of nappies trauma)
  • Write a blog post a week
  • Save a pound a day (to put towards a long dreamed of project)
  • Sort ten items to give away a week (decluttering is a lifetime project apparently)

So, in between scheduled activities that are set in stone, I pick any project from my list, whatever suits my mood. I don't resent having to carry them out, I have a few fun things (I can't really call crochet a daily necessity, but it sure is relaxing) that I can pick without guilt - there is balance. I take childlike pleasure from achieving tiny, incremental goals that I can see building into a worthwhile whole, not unlike collecting pennies in a jar.

I am now writing a list like this for our longer term goal of moving to Norfolk. Part of the reason that the self reliant life so appeals to me is the sheer variety of skills I would get to exercise on a daily basis, but self discipline is still an essential. A balance, as always, is the best way forward. I have made my peace with the reality that some things just have to be done there and then; and sometimes I have to just commit; and sometimes I can hop about from task to task.

So, how does your brain work? How do you organize your activities? And if your brain works like mine, all advice will be gratefully received. If your brain does sound a little like my brain, you may want to check out this time management method. If your brain doesn't work like mine, well, you probably don't need any advice on time management anyway : )


Anne said...

I flipping LOVE this. I have always known that I couldn't work in a structure on my own. I just didn't have this structure to use. And, I totally agree that when working with or for others I can be totally disciplined. I even sometimes say to myself 'pretend this is a friend's house, clean as if it was theirs.'
Thank you for putting your finger on the problem and the answer!

Susan said...

I have been using inspiration from the book Steady Days by Jamie Martin. She gives examples of how to organize your days loosely into chunks of time. This is working for me right now because I need to see things on paper or else I will forget. For the first 2 hours of the day, I need to see that little reminder list of things like Take pills, start 1 load of laundry, start loaf of bread, etc or else I will forget and it will be 5pm or later when I remember I haven't fed the chickens or whatever. It also helps for me to see a list if things I can do when I have spare time (like if both kids' naps overlap). If I don't have a list to remind of some fun things to do, I will sit in front of the computer and waste time, or just stare into space and waste time.
Isn't it funny that when I can't do anything (like when I'm in the middle of nursing) I think of all sorts of things I'd like to get done, but as soon as I get up off the couch and walk into the other room, I totally forget all of that and get distracted elsewhere.

Reyna said...

.....and I thought I was weird because I tend to just drift around the house, going from one thing to another as whimsy takes me. Except of course if there are others involved (I'm not sure I ever actually realised this until I read it here, but it is SO true!) I've always thought my current way of being is a direct result of twenty years of working too hard and worrying about what others think too much. Perhaps it is not that at all, but just a reflection of the way my brain actually works. I like the idea of Steady Days, Susan - sounds gentle enough to be helpful rather than stress-inducing. Thanks to all for sharing.

Cherie said...

Great advice. I easily get so overwhelmed by what I need to get done, that I run from one half started task to another, to another. Half dressed, halfway through making school lunches, I run off to put on some laundry ;)
Mindfulness has helped me a bit, but Im still learning. Will look into the suggestions mentioned in comments too.